There will be plenty of people that bemoan this season of Game of Thrones for losing some of its nuance, some of its patience. The travel time between destinations has been laughably inconsistent, and plot advancement feel more like fan-service than logical characters making decisions.
The reality is we’re in the show’s final act. Granted we’re stretching it into two mini-seasons spaced maddeningly more than a year apart, but it’s the final act nonetheless. Plots need to be resolved, pay-offs must be made, and I, for one, have been (mostly) satisfied by the choices made.
If it’s any consolation to Game of Thrones purists, last nights’ season seven finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” packed in plenty of moving parts, while also indulging in some juicy character moments for the Lannister siblings.
This needs to hold us over until 2019, so let’s try to savor what we can in our recap below.
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing …
Everyone’s arriving for the great Westeros Leadership Summit, and you should see the red carpet! Jaime and Bronn are doing the Joan and Melissa schtick, commenting on whether Theon or the Unsullied are wearing the whole eunuch thing best.
Dany’s squad arrival sets up some nice reunions, including Pod and Tyrion, Bronn and Tyrion and, my favorite, Brienne and the Hound. Despite how their last meeting ended, this one ha a lot less bloodshed. Instead, they mostly just chat a bit about Arya, and they almost seem to share a sense of parental pride.
The leadership teams reserved the Dragonpit conference room for this meeting, even though it doesn’t have a whiteboard and no one remembered to get everyone’s Panera order beforehand. The Northern contingent — Brienne, Jon Snow, Davos — take their seats. Tyrion, Jorah and Dany’s folks take theirs. Cersei enters with her Queensguard looking fierce as hell. Seriously, she was serving lewk for the Seven GAWDS, mama.
All they’re missing now is Daenerys. Cersei came in here thinking Category Is: Dark Glamour Realness, but it turns out, Category Is: Dramatic Entrance. Dany snatches the title by landing on the back of Drogon. Slay, Khaleesi! Slay!
With everyone present and accounted for, it’s time to kick off this WWDC (Westeros-Wide Dragonpit Conference) demo.
Before they start launching into their presentation, Euron interrupts to mock Tyrion. “Oh, you wanna talk about reading? Let’s talk about reading!” Tyrion shuts down Euron’s weak dwarf jokes until even Cersei is like take a seat, Euron, the library is now closed.
The Hound brings out a crate containing the wight they captured and kicks it over. The zombie lurches toward Cersei before the Hound yanks it back and slices it in pieces, immobilizing but not killing it.
Then, Jon Snow comes out to demonstrate the features: You can kill it with fire or dragonstone, it connects wirelessly to your Apple TV and has a 12 megapixel camera.
And one more thing, they can’t swim!
Armed with that piece of information, Euron is like, peace out, I’m hunkering down safely on the Iron Islands until this is all over.
Cersei tells those remaining that she will honor the requested truce on the condition that Jon Snow does not join Daenerys in the fight against the Lannisters. Jon wastes no time confessing that he can’t honor that pledge because he already bent the knee to Dany last week. He can’t serve two queens.
Without that part of the bargain, Cersei withdraws her support and makes an exit. Way to go, Jon Snow, you truly know nothing.
Tyrion goes to talk some sense into his sister, and what unfolds in one of the series’ best scenes. Both actors truly go for it as they unpack all the complications of their relationship. Cersei reminds him that although he didn’t kill Joffrey, by killing their father Tywin, he left the family vulnerable. That opening allowed for the deaths of Tommen and Myrcella.
Her younger brother throws himself at her mercy, apologizing profusely for whatever role he played in the deaths of his niece and nephew. Given the chance to have the Mountain crush Tyrion into a ball, dribble him like a cartoon basketball and tossing him in a trashcan, Cersei relents.
She explains to Tyrion that when she saw the wight, she didn’t think about saving the lives of the kingdom, she only thought of saving those that matter to her. She places an obvious hand over her womb. That’s when Tyrion realizes she’s pregnant.
(It’s here, again, that I reassert my belief that Cersei is not pregnant. She used that manipulate Jaime, and now she’s using it to convince Tyrion she has an interest in a brighter future.)
Tyrion’s pleas appear to work. Cersei rejoins the Dany squad back at the Dragonpit and announces that she will support their fight against the Night King without expecting anything in return. How kind and very un-Cersei like.
Her enemies leave, and Cersei grabs her brother for some one-on-one time. (Not like that! Get your minds out of the incest gutter! For now!) He’s getting ready to march North when she confesses it was all a ruse. She’s not planning on helping them fight the Night King. She wants all of them distracted so she can reclaim her lands.
‘Oh yeah? You and what army?’ Jaime wonders. That’s when she reveals Euron is not actually retiring to the Iron Islands with a condo and rattan furniture. He’s actually sailing to Essos to pick up the mercenary army Cersei ordered on Amazon Prime.
It’s a ruthless plan, it’s a heartless plan, (it’s also not a very good plan), but it’s a plan that Jaime simply cannot go along with. Cerse accuses him of treason, but he storms off before she can have the Mountain hack him to bits.
Even though this is a man that stabbed a king in the back and pushed a child out a window, he cannot break a promise. He mounts his horse, covers his golden hand and heads North as the snow begins to fall.
Winter is here.
Meanwhile, in Dragonstone …
Assuming Cersei has their backs, Daenerys and company plot their journey North. Jorah points out that the Targaryens are not very popular up North, so maybe Daenerys should consider taking a direct flight on Drogon Airlines. Jon counters that it’s important for him and Dany to travel together … for reasons … and Dany agrees. They should see that she’s coming North to save them, not conquer them.
On their way out, Theon grabs Jon for a quick chat. He’s real sorry about double-crossing the family that raised him, pretending to flay his two younger brothers, standing by for too long while Sansa was brutalized and all the other myriad nasty stuff he’s guilty of. Jon forgives him for what he can, and he assures Theon that he is still both a Greyjoy and a Stark.
This bit of confidence boost fuels Theon to go out to the remaining Ironborn loading their ships. With Yara out of the picture, the guys are planning to find their own island, kill the men, steal the women and basically kick off a Westerosi reboot of Pirates of the Caribbean. Theon floats the idea of going to break out Yara, but the guys still would rather yo-ho-ho and drink a bottle of rum.
The leader of the men starts swinging at Theon, giving him a good thrashing along the way. Theon gets knocked down, but he gets up again, you’re never gonna keep him down. His attacker repeatedly tries to knee him in the crotch, which I think we can all agree is always hilarious — how else do you explain the continued success of America’s Funniest Home Videos? — but it’s obviously an ineffective move on ol’ castrated Theon.
Realizing how something he’s lost can actually be asset seems to energize him, and he overcomes the attacker. Then he rallies the men to go save Yara.
My prediction: Yara will be freed, at the expense of Theon’s life, and the Ironborn fleet will return to help Daenerys at a crucial moment.
Meanwhile, in Winterfell …
Sansa is miffed to learn Jon Snow bent the knee to Dany without consulting her first. Littlefinger seizes this opportunity to encourage Sansa to overthrow her step-brother, but she’s worried Arya would never allow it. Littlefinger digs in deeper, encouraging Sansa to think about why exactly her sister came back, leading down a cynical rabbit hole that eventually leads Sansa to conclude Arya returned to kill her and become the Lady of Winterfell.
Sansa assembles everyone in the Great Hall, including guardsmen, Bran and Littlefinger. Arya stands before her, and Sansa reads off charges: murder, treason, etc. How do you plead … LORD BAELISH?
SWISH, SWISH, BAELISH!
That’s right! Sansa is trying Littlefinger for murder and treason. She explains how he conspired to kill Jon Arryn, how it was his knife that went after Bran, how he pushed crazy Aunt Lysa out the moon door. Littlefinger tries to tell Sansa that he loved her mother and her, but to no avail. (Sansa counters that he betrayed both). Sansa then lays out some excellent lines about being a slow learner, but she does learn. She thanks him for the lessons he taught her, and then Arya slits his throat!
With Littlefinger out of the way, Arya and Sansa share some sisterly bonding. They reminisce about their father and how he’d talk about how the lone wolf dies alone, but the pack survives.
Finally, here’s the sweet Stark reunion we’ve been waiting for.
Elsewhere, Bran is warming by the fire when Sam Tarly comes in for a visit. Bran finally confirms on-screen, once and for all, that Jon is actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Since he was born in Dorne, he is really Jon Sand (Sand being the surname of bastards born in Dorne). Sam realizes that woman Rhaegar married in secret in Dorne must’ve been Lyanna, and, therefore, Jon is not a bastard. He is a legit Targaryen and the true heir to the Iron Throne (a fact Bran confirms with a quick search on the Warg Wide Web). His real name is Aegon Targaryen (which is weird because Rhaegar already had a son named Aegon, but, honestly, that isn’t even in the Top 5 weirdest things about this).
Now, we knew all of this already, mostly, but this is the first time it’s all been spelled out on screen and presented as fact.
And what a time for it to be confirmed, because …
Meanwhile, en route North …
Jon and Dany are on the same ship. Jon pays a visit to HIS AUNT’S quarters.
They do it.
Meanwhile, at Eastwatch …
Tormund and Beric are taking a stroll along the Wall when the Night King’s army approaches: White Walkers, wights, wight giants, the whole lot.
They stop just ahead of the wall, and the Night King comes soaring in on the back of reanimated Viserion. The dragon breathes some kind of blue fire. (There’s debate if he’s breathing ice or fire or icefire, which is definitely not a thing. My thought is it’s just blue fire, since typically blue is the hottest part of a flame anyway. How that works scientifically with the Night King’s ice magic, who knows!)
Anyway, Viserion destroys the wall, creating an opening for the Night King’s army of the dead to make their way into the kingdom.
Where does that leave us for next season? Well, for starters, I don’t think Tormund is dead. It’d be weird to lose him off-camera in such a chaotic scene. I imagine we start next season with him emerging from the rubble to warn Jon Snow.
Dany and her crew are going to start the season fighting a war on two fronts: the Night King in the North, and Cersei and the Godlen Company to the south. Eventually the Night King is going to force everyone at Winterfell south, so my money’s on Sansa, Arya, the Hound, Brienne, etc. heading to King’s Landing.
Assuming they have Jaime to aid them, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them create quite a headache for Cersei. Now, it’s been widely speculated that the valonqar destined to kill Cersei (as per Maggy’s prophecy) is going to be Jaime. However, now that we know that High Valyrian nouns are gender-neutral, could it be that instead of a younger brother, it’s a younger sister that kills Cersei? Because she is on the list of one younger sister, Arya. Jaime will have a hand in defeating Cersei, but I’m not convinced he’ll be the one to end her.
Also, getting that crew to King’s Landing would allows us to finally see the Clegane brothers battle once for and all.
And finally, there ain’t no way Jon and Dany aren’t making a baby. Be grossed out by the incest, but that’s a thing we’ve had to deal with on the show from the beginning. It’s also something the Targaryens (and actual, non-fiction royal families) are all about already. I’m not condoning it or anything, but I wasn’t shocked by it either.
What are your theories as the series makes it way to its dramatic conclusion?